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Teach the Vote’s Week in Review: March 8, 2024

Teach the Vote
Teach the Vote

Date Posted: 3/08/2024

The ATPE Governmental Relations team recaps the past week’s education news, legislative and election updates, and regulatory developments.  

PRIMARY ELECTION: The result of Tuesday’s primary election is a Texas House that will be far less friendly to public education issues. The combined efforts of billionaire Texans, out-of-state advocacy organizations funded by individuals such as former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Gov. Greg Abbott (R), empowered by his own historic campaign donation from a Pennsylvania billionaire/voucher supporter, resulted in the defeat of six anti-voucher House Republican incumbents, with four others headed to May runoffs. The Texas Tribune covered the election in light of the voucher issue, with ATPE’s Kate Johanns telling the Tribune it was a “sad day in Texas”: “Out-of-state donors have colluded with state leadership to defame and punish honorable public servants from their own party who went to Austin to vote their districts and their consciences. We are disheartened but not dissuaded. Our state’s 5.4 million public schoolchildren deserve better from the leaders of Texas, and we’ll continue fighting for them.” Teach the Vote has a full primary election wrap-up here, and look for further analysis in the weeks to come about what setbacks driven by the minority of Texans who participated in the primary elections truly means for public education. 

ROGERS: One of the anti-voucher House Republican incumbents defeated in Tuesday’s primary, Rep. Glenn Rogers (R–Weatherford), has penned a passionate reflection on the state of Texas politics and the challenges of representing one’s district in a climate dominated by big dollars and big political aspirations. It’s well worth a read. 

STATE OF THE UNION: President Joe Biden delivered his annual State of the Union address Thursday evening and briefly mentioned several public education issues, including expanding prekindergarten access and providing teacher pay raises. (It’s important to note these are issues primarily controlled at the state level and that a state can choose not to accept federal funding for a program.) Education Week offers a good overview of Biden’s education references, and this Teach the Vote blog post covers the Biden K-12 policy agenda released earlier this year. 

IDEA PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The Texas Education Agency announced Wednesday it had placed the state’s largest charter network, IDEA Public Schools, under a conservatorship as part of a settlement agreement. The agreement was reached following a multi-year investigation into lavish spending by IDEA officials, including on such line items as private jets. The Texas Tribune has more

ARIZONA VOUCHERS: Five individuals, including three Arizona state employees, were indicted Feb. 29 in an alleged scheme to siphon an estimated $600,000 from Arizona’s educational savings account (ESA)/private school voucher program. ATPE Lobbyist Tricia Cave covers this instance of voucher fraud in this blog post. 

SPRING BREAK: Many Texas school districts are on spring break next week. Whether yours starts Monday or is the following week, ATPE wishes you a safe and relaxing week off! You deserve it! 


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